I want to start this post about how to help your working partner build a strong relationship with your children by saying that I am going to be very non gender specific. I was blessed enough to have a stay at home parent and it wasn’t my mother. That’s right! My dad is a stay at home dad. I know that was a difficult decision for my very conservative parents to make. We as parents have to sacrifice ourselves and our societal “normals” to provide the very best we can for our kids. Dads are parents, too, equally capable of caring for their children.
I’m a stay at home mom. My husband is gone everyday from 8am -6:30pm. While we try to squeeze in as much fun and family time as we can together on the weekends it’s important to for parents to be parents everyday, not just on the weekends. Here are some of our tips on how to help your working partner to build and keep a close relationship with the kids.
Encourage the kids to think of their parent while they are at work.
If you’re doing art, ask them to make a likeness of their other parent. If you’re talking about what type of cookies to make ask what kind do you think Mommy/Daddy would like? Simply mentioning the other parent during the course of the day makes the kids feel closer to them. It encourages them to think about the working parent.
Let them share something special
I know it goes against human nature, but let them share something that is special for just them. I know it hurts just a little to be left out of the project, the conversion, or the lessons, but this is a truly wonderful way for them to share something and build a strong relationship with your children. The working parent can teach them a special talent, like playing guitar. It could be a special after dinner cookie date where they share stories and giggle of cookies. Maybe they are the designated bed time tucker-inner. (That’s a real term!) Whatever it is, respect that it is something just for them to share.
Remind them why the other parent is hard at work right now.
We as adults aware that the stay at home parent is working hard, and saving money in all kinds of ways (I mean, who can afford daycare, and a live in maid?) But this is about facilitating the relationship between the other parent and your kids. The more you help your kids understand that by working you can have a nice house to stay in and cookies to eat, the more you help your kids see the depth of their parent’s love. This will help build a strong relationship with your children. Say things like, “Daddy/ Mommy loves you so much they work all day to help you have these nice things!” Of course this is to be used sparingly. You don’t want your kids to begin to feel guilty by reminding them every single day.
Encourage the parent to engage in at least one activity with the kids when he/she gets home.
I’m not talking about walking through the door and running outside but here is what one of our typical days looks like when hubby gets home. Lunchbox gets set down, I get a kiss and he gets welcomed home. We chat about our day while he’s taking his work boots off. Then after he has a fresh hot cup of coffee in his thermos he plays with the kids. Sometimes that does mean going outside and running around. Sometimes it looks like playing leggos or blocks, some days he’s just too drained. Hey! That happens to us all. On those days it’s pick out a movie and cuddle on the couch.
I love this time of day. It’s the only meal I cook that doesn’t include juggling kids. I can focus and do what I enjoy doing. I also get to sneak glances into the living room and when I do my heart could just burst from happiness.
Another tip to help your working partner build a strong relationship with your children is for you to try not to always jump in right away. I know this one is hard! I know! Your kids are home with you all day. You play, work, kiss boo boos, open the bags, pour the juice. They rely on you exclusively for the greater part of the day. When your partner gets home give them a chance to wipe a booty, clean up a mess, or kiss a boo boo. Sometimes accidents happen. Look honestly into your track record. Stuff happens! And I’ll bet that your partner didn’t rub your nose in it, or decide that you are an unfit parent.
You may be inclined to say something like, “that’s not how we do it.” Well it doesn’t matter if that’s not how *you* do it! The other parent deserves a chance to parent the way that comes naturally to them. So give yourself a mental break and let them handle some stuff. I mean it drives me crazy that my hubby thinks a paper towel is the optimal tool to clean up every mess. YES, every mess. *Shudders* But that’s his way and I’m learning to let it go (or clean it with soap when no one’s around). Which brings me to my next point.
Don’t undermine their authority.
You want your children to have a healthy level of respect for the working parent. Love and respect go together like peas and carrots. When they get home from work, whatever they say goes. If they say yes to the kids when they ask for a cookie while you’re in the kitchen making dinner, don’t go on a rampage about how they’ll all ruin their appetites. Simply pull your partner to the side and gently remind them about how it’s better for the kids to have cookies after dinner. If you have a problem with any given situation speak to them about it in private.
Remember you guys are a team. If the kids are asking for cookies before dinner, “Go ask the other parent” doesn’t really help build respect either. Encourage your partner if they are unsure about any given situation to say things like, “I’ll discuss it with your Mother/ Father” so that way they are seen as an equal parental figure instead of on the same level as the kids asking for permission.
Give them time alone together.
This is my personal favorite way for a working parent build a strong relationship with your children. It’s rare, but seems to be the most special. You and the kids are alone together nearly all day. When the working parent is not at work then you are all together as a family. When is it their turn to be alone with the kids? Why not let them take the kids out to a special dinner while you stay home and soak in the tub? OK, who are we kidding here, you’ll probably scrub the tub because it’s been on your to-do list for 3 years. You get my point though! Let them go off together, or stay in together while you go out. Here’s the catch- you can’t call to check on them every 10 minutes. Your partner is an adult who cares deeply for your children just the same as you. Do they trust you? Yes! So extend that same courtesy back to them. Trust me, you deserve some time alone with your thoughts anyways.
Babywearing for the win!
A great way to facilitate the natural bond between child and parent is to try out babywearing. When your partner gets home they can give you a break and experience all the joys and closeness that “uppies” offers. It’s especially handy if you have other projects going on. Your partner can work on those projects while keeping the little one close. Our Ergobaby Organic goes up to 45 pounds, so I know these two will be enjoying cuddles for a long time to come. To see what other parents have to see about babywearing check out this post. For a review on several different carriers this post is really helpful!
I hope you found our tips helpful. Hubby loves being a daddy and I know he is grateful for the time he gets with the kids. I also know he wishes he could be with them even more than he is now. Building his relationship with the kids has become a family goal. We aren’t going to let their bond fall backseat to the daily grind. If you found this blog post I suspect you and your working partner feel the same way. If you have any more tips or ideas on the subject please leave a comment. I’d love to know how you keep your family close.